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VE Day 75: Memories of enormous parties after years under hardship in Redbridge

PUBLISHED: 12:02 07 May 2020 | UPDATED: 16:58 07 May 2020

David Coveney was a baby in his mothers arms in this picture from the VE Day celebrations in Gants Hill. Picture: David Coveney

David Coveney was a baby in his mothers arms in this picture from the VE Day celebrations in Gants Hill. Picture: David Coveney

Archant

While we all wonder when we will emerge from lockdown readers share memories of coming out for the joyous celebrations for VE day 75 years ago.

Fairlop historian David Martin and Norman Hagger are two survivors from this celebration. Picture: David MartinFairlop historian David Martin and Norman Hagger are two survivors from this celebration. Picture: David Martin

Eric Parrish was 14 years old on VE day, and lived in Mortlake Road in Ilford and recalled an enormous street party where the children were able to feast on sandwiches, cakes and jellies.

He recalled: “Goodness knows where the food came from as food was severely rationed.”

There was also an enormous bonfire where wood, old furniture, garden refuse and other rubbish was piled up and Eric was the stoker.

He said: “The radius of the fire was about 12-14 feet and the height reached that of the adjacent lamp post.

Phyllis Sheridan of Gants Hill was 15 when she attended VE Day celebrations in Willesden. Picture: Elaine WestwoodPhyllis Sheridan of Gants Hill was 15 when she attended VE Day celebrations in Willesden. Picture: Elaine Westwood

“When alight, the flames reached about 15 feet in the air.

“That fire was continually stoked and it burned for 3 days.”

He said it was difficult to emerge after five years of the war filled with air raids, living and sleeping in their Anderson shelter in the back garden and rationing food and clothes.

He said: “One of my greatest wishes was to have a tin of mandarin oranges which I remembered from pre-war birthday parties!

“After the deprivations of five years of war, we found it difficult to believe life could return to normal - although young children did not know what that meant as rationing and house black-outs were their norm.

“Our great joy was tempered, however, with the thoughts that the war in the Far East was continuing and many husbands and fathers were still fighting.”

David Coveney attended a VE celebration in Glenham Drive in Gants Hill and still has a copy of a cherished picture of his mother holding him as a baby in front of a large table filled with children with a plentiful supply of tea and cakes.

Phyllis Sheridan, who lives in Gants Hill, was 15 years old on VE day where she attended a celebration at her aunt’s house in Willesden.

Fairlop historian David Martin, who was a little boy on VE day, will hold a modest celebration in his garden in Hanover Gardens with Norman Hagger, who was in the same picture with him.

Please share any pictures of how you are celebrating VE day under lockdown to roy.chacko@archant.co.uk


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